It’s a good time to be a Santa Barbara Foresters player, coach or fan these days.
The team racked up another win on Sunday, defeating the Santa Maria Pea Soup, 8-5, at Pershing Park. On top of that, the Foresters have been invited to participate in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas early next month. It’s a tournament in which Santa Barbara has participated every year in manager Bill Pintard’s 26 years on the job, and one the Foresters have won seven times.
Although Pintard’s potent lineup has played an independent schedule this season due to COVID-19, the NBC committee felt it necessary to extend an invitation to one of the nation’s best collegiate summer teams. In the past, the team that won the California Collegiate League — the league in which the Foresters compete — automatically qualified for the NBC World Series. But because of the coronavirus, there is no league competition this summer. Pintard said the team has not yet made a decision whether it will play in Wichita in a couple of weeks. There are financial issues that are a big factor in all of it, but at least there is a spot if the Foresters want it.
“We have a good club and I think we’re deserving of the berth,” said Pintard, whose team improved to 21-3 with Sunday’s win. “We’re excited to receive it.”
A decision is necessary sooner than later whether the team will compete at the NBC.
“We have to figure it out pretty quick because it’s coming up on August 4,” Pintard said. “We have to check with our board of directors and make sure that everybody is 100% behind it.
“Their COVID-19 protocol and everything they have over there is really good. We’ll have no contact with the public. Players will have private entrances and temperatures will be taken.”
As for Sunday’s win over Santa Maria, Foresters starting pitcher Blake Adams didn’t allow anything through the first four innings.
The University of Arkansas right-hander earned the win by tossing five shutout innings, during which he allowed two hits, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.
“He was good, man,” Pintard said of his starter. “He was perfect through four . What I really like is that he didn’t walk anybody.
“In past outings, he’s had some command issues and control issues where he’d walk guys. He didn’t walk anybody today.”
UCLA catcher Noah Cardenas finished 2-for-5 with three runs batted in, and was also solid behind the plate for Santa Barbara.
“We have a great receiver (in Cardenas) who helps these pitchers get dialed in. He’s an above-average receiver (of the ball) and he gets strikes for our pitchers the way he frames the ball. He does a good job.”
Cardenas has also been excellent this summer at throwing out baserunners trying to steal.
“I can only recall one, maybe two stolen bases. Teams don’t run against him,” Pintard said. … “He shuts down the running game and he handles pitchers really well. He can take a low pitch and turn it into a strike as well as I’ve seen any amatuer catcher. He’s an above-average receiver.”
Incoming Oklahoma State Cowboy Christian Encarnacion took over the team lead in home runs with a solo shot in the second inning. Encarnacion has seven homers this summer.
With so many businesses and events shut down in California because of COVID-19, Pintard made a point of thanking the city of Santa Barbara, once again, for allowing the Foresters to play their games at Pershing Park.
“They’re the best,” he said. “The Parks and Rec department is just wonderful. As long as we did everything the right way, they said we can play.
“I think the city knows we try to do things the right way. We do what we say and we say what we do. We respect the laws and the rules and the regulations that the city has demanded of us.”
The Foresters return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the Southern California Halos at Pershing Park.